Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Demon of Doing Well

by Miki Kashtan

Some time in May, it became clear to all of us at BayNVC, the organization I co-founded in 2002, that we were in such financial difficulty, that even after laying off three of four remaining administrative employees, including the executive director, we were facing a significant debt, much of which was to me or in my name (you can read more about what happened, and how we are responding to this crisis, here). This came at a time when I was very depleted and in need of a break from responsibility. The level of crisis I felt was acute, sharp, visceral. It affected me physically with unprecedented intensity of stress. One of the more challenging aspects of my experience was the utter sense of helplessness, seeing no way in which I could make any choice that would attend to the magnitude of the crisis and still attend to my longing for balance, for a way to care for myself.

Taking on responsibility for the whole is part of how I respond to crisis, personal or otherwise, so it’s no surprise to me that it took four weeks to envision a different path forward, one I could embrace with integrity, which took me towards releasing myself from responsibility. It took another four weeks, and much inner work, both conscious and unconscious, to regain my sense of freedom, to see a way that I could focus on what was most important to me with far less cost. Meanwhile, the most immediate initial ripples of the crisis were subsiding. Fundraising efforts and other ingenious ideas were beginning to bear fruit. The group of collaborative trainers working with BayNVC coalesced into a sweet community forging a way forward together, making decisions that made sustainability possible. Some conflicts that emerged during the transition were dissolving, and new opportunities began to emerge.

Then, one morning, I woke up feeling good. The sense of crisis was gone. I felt back in my life, full of energy and a sense of possibility. Challenge was still there, and it didn’t detract from this fundamental sense of well-being. Then, immediately in the wake of this lovely feeling, I was filled with dread about the next bad thing that was going to happen. This experience filled me with sadness, even though I understand the many experiences in life that created this expectation within me. The sadness is not because I have any illusion that there could ever be good times that would just last forever. Rather, I was sad because I wanted to be able to enjoy my well-being while it lasted instead of losing it right away because of the fear of losing it later.